‘We all work for one vision’

Daniel Gottschlich doesn’t simply cook – he holds two Michelin stars. He also makes music, furniture and kitchen utensils, and has received an artist’s grant from Villa Massimo. Stand still? Not an option.

Interior from Ox and Klee in Cologne, Germany

Daniel Gottschlich

📍 Ox & Klee, Im Zollhafen 18, 50678 Cologne

📍 Puls Restaurant & Bar, Bürgerstraße 2, 50667 Cologne 

Daniel Gottschlich - Restaurateur - Ox and Klee in Cologne

Chef and much more: the multitalented Daniel Gottschlich

The Ox and Klee restaurant in Cologne

MPULSE: Daniel, you once said that during your training as a chef, you went home in tears one day  – and that you don’t want an atmosphere like that in your kitchen now. 

Daniel: Let me correct the picture a bit: there were one or two of those moments in my apprenticeship. And there were a lot of factors that came together, of course – working hours, pressure, stress. But, yeah, a harsh tone was common in kitchens back then. And a strict hierarchy – which you’ll still sometimes find, and not without reason. But the stricter these hierarchical structures are, the more the team feeling suffers.

What approach do you take instead? 

It’s about how you lead a team. What I want to achieve is a community. That of course takes people in different positions, but our hierarchies are flat. We deal with each other on friendly terms. We all work independently and, at the same time, together – for one vision.
 

In my team, everyone has personal responsibility. That’s in keeping with today’s zeitgeist. 

Daniel Gottschlich

And that means? 

I emphasise enthusiasm instead of pressure. In my team, everyone has personal responsibility. That’s in keeping with today’s zeitgeist. No one has to work in the restaurant business – we do it because we have a passion for it. 

What do you mean by ‘vision’? 

I want to offer our guests the greatest possible restaurant experience. To give them our best, the team and I always have to keep developing. Reinvention is an important notion to me. 

That’s for sure. Among other things, you also make music and furniture, and you’re the first chef to have received an artist’s grant from the Villa Massimo of the German Academy in Rome. What’s the significance of that to you?

It’s always been important to me to keep on developing. But the farther you go, the more important it becomes. That is, to not just coast along on what you’ve achieved. I regularly ask myself the question: am I already the best possible version of myself? Or is there still room for improvement? ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow’ or ‘It’s not time for that yet’ – that’s not my mindset.

What does that mean for your restaurants?

The experience for the guest begins right at the door. You come into a darkened entry area and you’re received by an arch of lights. You wonder, what’s happening here? We want to completely engage the guest, from the interior to the menu. Think: gamification. Arousing something in people in a playful way. At Ox & Klee, it’s about the six taste qualities and the aha effect – in all possible situations. In the food itself, we work with lots of details, from nitrogen to dry ice. We want to take our guests on a holistic journey of discovery.

How did you get started transforming dining into an immersive experience?

As a kid, I very rarely got to eat out with my parents. When I did, it was something exciting and special – an intense flash. I want to create this flash for our guests.

People who try a lot of things out also experience setbacks. For example, you closed one of your restaurants. How do you deal with that? 

Well, to start with, the way I see it, closing a restaurant isn’t necessarily a setback. It’s based on a very clear business decision, and it’s okay when something ends. A certain resiliency absolutely helps. There, too, it comes down the mindset: don’t give up, accept reality, work with it and keep going.

What’s next on your agenda?

The more you’ve done, the harder it becomes to achieve something new, of course. But – it’s always possible to do things better. At the moment, I’m very focused on my personal development. It might sound funny at first, but I want to keep pushing things forward. To do that, it’s important to keep questioning yourself. Only then can you also help other people along on their journey.

 

About ...  Daniel Gottschlich

A trained energy system electronics technician, musician and furniture designer, R Express customer Daniel Gottschlich, born in 1982, has a lot of irons in the fire. One of them glows especially bright: the double Michelin-star-winning Ox & Klee, which he opened in 2010 based on the ‘taste experience’ concept. Daniel additionally operates a second restaurant in Cologne’s historic city centre. As the first chef to receive an artist’s grant from the Villa Massimo, he also explores the question of whether cooking is art.

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